A typical divide underlies the top-line numbers: 68 percent of Democrats give Obama positive ratings, while 69 percent of Republicans give him negative ratings. Independents are split about evenly in their assessment of his leadership, and are divided fairly evenly between the president and congressional Republicans on the issue.
Although most Americans dislike what the Senate did on background checks for gun buyers, they are divided on the question of whether they trust Obama or congressional Republicans on the issue of gun control. Democrats and Republicans are predictable in their assessments, while independents favor Republicans, 44 percent to 36 percent.
Obama receives a net negative rating on his handling of gun issues, with 44 percent approving and 49 percent disapproving. A majority of independents, 54 percent, give him negative ratings, and even a fifth of Democrats say they disapprove of the way he is handling the issue.
Only 29 percent of Americans say the Senate did the right thing in rejecting expanded background checks. Of those who oppose the action, 42 percent blame Republicans for the bill’s demise, while 11 percent point to Obama.
A majority of those who oppose the Senate action, 55 percent, say they could not support a congressional candidate who voted against background checks. But most Republicans who support expanded checks say they could vote for a candidate who didn’t.
Compared with a Post-ABC poll taken in January, the percentage of Americans who think the National Rifle Association has too much power over the country’s gun laws has risen by six points. In the new survey, 44 percent say the organization has too much power, compared with 18 percent who say it has too little. About a third said the advocacy group has the right amount of influence.
The biggest change in perceptions that the NRA has too much sway came among Democrats, including a 13 percentage-point increase among Democrats in households with guns.
Looking ahead to the 2014 midterm elections, Democrats hold an advantage in public opinion, according to the poll. About 48 percent of all registered voters say they would vote for a Democratic candidate for the House if the election were held today; 40 percent would back a Republican. That does not necessarily mean more Democrats would be elected: Democrats won the popular vote for the House in November even as Republicans maintained their majority.
The poll was conducted May 16 to 19 among a random national sample of 1,001 adults. The results from the full survey have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Cohen is polling director for Capital Insight, the independent polling group of Washington Post Media. Capital Insight pollsters Peyton M. Craighill, Scott Clement and Kimberly Hines contributed to this report.
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